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Milwaukee developer proposes teacher housing

By Beth Kevit 

A team led by a Milwaukee-based developer could win the rights to transform the former Dover Street School into the first phase of an $18.15 million, 110-unit housing project.

The Milwaukee Board of School Directors voted Thursday on the proposal for TeachTown, which would be marketed toward young teachers. The city’s Common Council also would have to approve the project.

The development team, which would be named Dover LLC, would include Milwaukee-based Maures Development Group LLC, Baltimore-based Seawall Development Co. and CommonBond Communities Inc., a St. Paul, Minn.-based nonprofit, affordable housing developer.

Representatives from Maures and CommonBond did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Dover Street School was built in the 1890s at 619 E. Dover St. and has 23 classrooms, an auditorium, a gym, a cafeteria and a kitchen. The 66,629-square-foot building is on a 4.56-acre lot.

Dover LLC would pay the $350,000 asking price for the building and land and would renovate the former school into 43 apartments and 8,000 square feet of common space, according to a proposed term sheet. That common space would include a copy room and exercise area, and the building would include 20 sheltered parking spaces. Thirty-three of the apartments in the first phase would be one-bedroom units, six would have two bedrooms and four would be studios.

The second phase of the project would include construction of three new buildings, displacing the current surface parking. One of the buildings would be three stories, and the others would be two stories. Each building would include some enclosed and surface parking.

Dover LLC plans to apply for low-income housing tax credits from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority to pay for an estimated $9.2 million of the project’s cost. Sixty of the 110 apartments would be market rate, estimated at $860 to $1,400, and the remaining 50 would be affordable units, estimated at $380 to $900, according to the proposed term sheet.

Dover LLC’s proposal was one of three submitted.

One response did not meet requirements, according to a vendor selection overview provided to the board. Dover LLC’s proposal was the more attractive of the two remaining, according to the overview, because it included the higher number of apartments and because of Seawall’s involvement.

Thibault Manekin, a partner at Seawall, said his firm has worked on four teacher housing projects. Two are complete, both in Baltimore, and the others are in Philadelphia and New Orleans. The projects are not significantly different from traditional housing, he said, but his firm spends a lot of time talking to young teachers to gauge what they would want for amenities, which led to the idea of including a copy room. The potential tenants, he said, wanted an area where they could work on lesson plans without having to leave home.

Maures reached out to Seawall, Manekin said, and this would be his firm’s first foray into the Milwaukee area.

He referred questions about project details to Maures.

Maures Development’s housing projects in Milwaukee include Teutonia Gardens and Century City Lofts. CommonBond was involved in the development of Bishop’s Creek Family Housing and Florist Gardens, according to the overview.

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